Who Owns the Egungun?
A Masquerader does not and must not lay claim to the ownership of the EKU (Costume). He is just a carrier of the Eku for the duration of the Egungun festival. The Eku belongs to the Egungun cult led by the High Priests – Alapinni, Alaagba or as the case may be. This is the reason Egungun never dies even if the man under the regalia dies because the Eku is the Egungun and not the man inside it.
Except for Egungun Agba (Older, Elderly Traditional Masquerades) like Alapansanpa, Oloolu, Agbejapa Oba, Jenju, Ologbojo, that have the senior members of the Egungun cult as the carriers of Eku, for historical and cultural reasons, most masqueraders are always not members of the inner caucus but are given the privilege to carry the Eku as a further socialization process into the inner caucus.
The Alapinni, the Alagba or as the case may be (called the Oloje) controls and manages the Igbale (Egungun shrine), they are the custodians of the Egungun costumes and other cultural paraphernalia of power that makes Egungun Egungun. But the Oloje as the Council of Elders have the final say if there is a conflict.
The power to know who is the next to carry the Eku for the next Egungun festival does not lie on the current Egungun to decide but the Council of Priests which may include Alapinni, Alaagba, Iya Agan, Maato, Apena, etc.
This is the reason why the drummers always like to taunt any tough and disrespectful Egungun during performance that: ‘Egungun yi sora se, iwo ko lo leku’ (this masquerade be careful, the regalia does not belong to you). And expectedly, the Egungun will go wild and mad if he is Egungun Elegba, and start flogging everyone in sight including his drummers for daring to remind him the limit of his power.
But do Olojes change the Egungun anyhow? No, except he eers, commits traditional blunders, like passing in front of Iledi Ogboni without observing total silence or when the Ifa says No to his continuation.
Our culture is really the totality of our life including politics and political relationship. But only the Deep can relate to it
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